Commission Approves Grant To Fund New Drug Court Counselor
At the Dec. 12 regular meeting of the Wetzel County Commission, Bryan Hostetler, Fred McDonald, and Jennifer Call approached the Wetzel County Commission to request a donation to help fund the hiring of a counselor for the Lee Day Report Center.
Hostetler said there was no counselor in the Lee Day Report Center to run evening classes, due to lack of funds.
He explained, “Right now, we only have morning classes. So, for instance, if we get a husband and wife, the wife has to wait because they can’t be in group counseling together, so that’s a downfall.”
There are currently eight participants and four pending that have been ordered to drug court. McDonald would like to expand services to the community for people who have not been ordered to drug court, but still need services.
Call remarked, “Right now, with just the morning program, we have eight people. A lot of them have jobs, and they have to work in the afternoon. If we had an evening program, it could open up a little more job opportunity. Also they could work during the day and maybe come in the evening.”
The commission voted to donate $25,000 to hire a counselor for the Lee Day Report Center for the current fiscal year, to be reviewed again for the next fiscal year.
The commission also met with Ron Watson, president of the Harrison County Commission, and Greg Robertson, president of the Doddridge County Commission, along with several members of emergency services and 911 personnel, to discuss the counties coming together to fund and share a communication tower to improve 911 services.
Watson spoke on behalf of the Harrison County Commission, stating, “What we’d like to do is invite you to the table to see if Wetzel County would like to be part of this movement, as we go forward, to improve communications to Wetzel County people, as we know it’s going to, with the rest of our counties.”
Watson noted there is already an existing tower located in an area that, once transmitting, would improve 911 services to Wetzel, Doddridge, Tyler, and Harrison counties. By sharing the tower, it would enable the counties to apply jointly for improvements in the future. Watson admitted that the location of the tower was one that was heavily frequented by off-road vehicles, and there would need to be measures in place to prevent theft.
Robertson added that Doddridge County has poor cell service, and although the primary concern is improving communications for 911 services, there is a possibility that this will improve cell phone services.
Sonny Jordon, from Harrison and Taylor County 911, and assistant administrator for the West Virginia SIRN (Statewide Interoperable Radio Network) system, educated the commission about SIRN. He explained that its purpose was to allow counties to talk to each other on one radio system. Although the state maintains the system, the state does not own it.
He noted, “The best part is nobody owns it, so nobody can come in and say, ‘this is how your going to do it.’ We do have an executive committee made up of 911 directors, sheriffs, police, U.S Marshalls… everybody gets a little piece of it.”
He went on to say that they currently have about 90 towers in the state, but no towers in the heart of Wetzel County.
Jordon continued “When we first started, it was built mostly with grant money. Well, grant money dried up, so now we’re trying to do like with this tower here the counties are trying to build towers. What the state asks, is that the counties put propane in the generators and help fix the lights if they go out. The tower we’re looking at here at Arches Fork; it’s really different when one piece of land that can affect so many different counties.”
Jordon went on to state that the tower is at 100 feet and would provide coverage in southern Wetzel, northern Harrison, and parts of Doddridge and Tyler counties.
All together it would cost approximately $136,000 to get the tower transmitting, which would be split among the participating counties.
Edgar Sapp, Wetzel County 911 director, recalled, “When we talked a year ago, it was over $100,000, which was kind of out of the question as far as the 911 budget. It would put a hardship on it, but now that it’s four counties and adds up to being $34,000, I don’t see it being a problem, unless a year later maybe something else comes up.” He added, “With tower assistance, if you get a vendor that wants to go on that tower, then you’re going to get the grant, probably, for tower assistance, which is good.”
County Commissioner Lawrence Lemon stated, “I think, from our prospective, we’re interested, and the price is not a point of concern for us. We’ll pay our fair share.”
The commission did not vote on the issue at this time, but stated it will schedule the matter for a future agenda.